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I used to believe that I had a decent grasp of English as my second language, but now "The Last of the Mohicans" is completely crushing my self-esteem. This question is about one sentence, but I actually got quite a few I don't fully understand.

I am asking about the last sentence here:

“With joyful pleasure do I consent”, said David, adjusting his iron-rimmed spectacles, and producing his beloved little volume, which he immediately tendered to Alice. “What can be more fitting and consolatory, than to offer up evening praise, after a day of such exceeding jeopardy!”

Alice smiled; but, regarding Heyward, she blushed and hesitated.

“Indulge yourself,” he whispered; “ought not the suggestion of the worthy namesake of the Psalmist to have its weight at such a moment?”

Full book: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/940/940-h/940-h.htm)

I believe I understand the main idea. He says: "Ok, Alice, you can go ahead and indulge in singing psalms" (not in alcohol, drugs, and/or promiscuity; 18th century indulgence/vibing is also crushing my self-esteem, but that's a separate topic). The details of the second part of the phrase, however, are really vague to me. Here are my questions:

  1. "He" is Heyward?
  2. "Ought not the suggestion" = "Isn't the idea/proposal"?
  3. "Worthy namesake of the psalmist" = David (the psalmist)?
  4. Why namesake? Namesake implies two entities/people having same name. If one is the psalmist, who is the second one?
  5. Why "worthy"? Is it an irony in this context? Or a legit compliment?
  6. What does "its" refer to? Namesake? Suggestion? Or something outside of this sentence?
  7. Am I correct that "To have" is part of "Ought not ... to have"? Is this grammatically correct: "Ought not we to have some fun?"
  8. "To have its weight" = "to take place"/"to be implemented"? Is he implying some importance (weight) of the activity?

After rethinking all this again while writing those questions, I feel my closest interpretation is:

Heyward whispered; "Shouldn't the proposal of the great Psalmist (aka David) be implemented at such a right moment"?

Is that correct? If someone could please answer my nerdy questions, especially #4, #5, and #8, I would really appreciate.

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the worthy namesake of the Psalmist this entire phrase refers to David (the character in the book)

A psalm is a song of praise, in the Bible. The author of any of the many psalms in the Bible is referred to as "the Psalmist". King David is credited with writing most of the Psalms.

So as you mentioned in #4, there are in fact two people being spoken about: 1-King David of the Bible (the Psalmist/song writer) has the same name as (is the namesake of) 2-the character David in the book. The character David is being given a legit compliment, that he is "worthy" of carrying the same name as the great King David of the Bible.

This allusion to back to the Bible Psalms makes sense, because the subject at hand had to do with singing songs of praise or reading from some kind of religious text, is that right? (I've never read the book, so i don't know what was in his "beloved little volume")

Also, i understand the weight as being given to the suggestion.

"David's suggestion should be considered, don't you think? Look who he's named after!"

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  • I would suggest that you are a little of track not technically but emotionally. "Alice smiled; but, regarding Heyward, she blushed and hesitated" Alice had smiled at David before she looked at Heyward. I think it is pretty certain that in a book of this time period that implies some sort of romantic connect exists or is hoped for between Alice and David. Therefore Alice would be influence by the real David not the late King. – Brad Mar 16 at 9:12
  • @Brad, in a wider context, David is portrayed as a semi-comical character. He looks clumsy, has a pony-like horse, etc. His life choice to be a psalmist in a military union was just discussed/questioned a few paragraphs above. Some potential for a romantic connection was implied previously in the book between Heyward and Alice. Her father (colonel Munro) ordered Heyward to transport his daughters. Basically, I think she blushed not because of feelings towards David, but because she felt overly "disobedient", and needed Heyward's permission to sing. I have not finished the book, so we'll see. – sd1074 Mar 16 at 13:51
  • @StheRobot, thank you a lot, the allusion to the Biblical King David is what I was missing. I thought "the Psalmist" was Cooper's David who is indeed also a psalmist in this book. Now it all makes sense. So in the questioned sentence "the Psalmist" = "the Biblical King David" who was a famous psalmist (I assume capital P is there to emphasize the difference from the book character). "The NAMESAKE of the Psalmist" = "a person who has the same name as King David" (that is David, the book character). – sd1074 Mar 16 at 15:18
  • "The WORTHY namesake of the Psalmist" implies that character David is not simply a namesake, but is also a good psalmist, just like King David. I guess "worthy" makes the allusion to King David more obvious. I believe the "worthiness" of Cooper's David as a psalmist is additionally strengthened by saying that his "suggestion ... <ought> ... to have its WEIGHT". – sd1074 Mar 16 at 15:18
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“Indulge yourself,” he whispered; “ought not the suggestion of the worthy namesake of the Psalmist to have its weight at such a moment?”

To answer your questions, as written I would find a daunting task, however I hope you find this helpful.

Enjoy, you should think David’s suggestion is a good idea at a time like this


Why namesake? the second one is David “With joyful pleasure do I consent”, said David” At the beginning of your text.

Why "worthy"? = good; Something that is worthy is not very interesting but should be admired for its good and useful qualities:

To have its weight" = influence "The fact David has said it should influence you"


Ref CED Worthy weight influence

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